Just-In-Case Car Kit, Part 1

April 20, 2011

Survival Kits

The nature of emergencies is such that when you need something, you need it NOW.  In area with no cell coverage, traveling with a carload of kids is not the time to find out you have no spare tire as you stare at your flat and dusk approaches.

With that in mind, we have tried to anticipate as many needs as we can and stock our vehicles appropriately.

There is discussion on lots of other sites about BOBs (Bug-Out-Bags) but I will let you peruse them for more information about those.  What I want to address is the most likely everyday emergencies you may face and help you to think through what you may need to stock.

Start With Frequent Needs

We have several children, two of which are still in diapers.  That means at the top of my list are the various items they need on a constant basis, especially spare outfits, extra diapers, wipes.

I also try to keep at least one water bottle per person stashed in a basket under the console so they are out of the sun.  Just today I realized that it’s time to make sure I get bottles of sunscreen and bug repellent back in there too.

A Serious First Aid Kit

Next- something that everyone should probably have- is a serious first aid kit.  Not the 50 band-aids and a foil packet of ointment, though I carry one of those in the diaper bag.  I mean something that can deal with the cuts and scrapes, but also the headaches, bumps on the head, upset stomachs, and so on.

We beefed up a store-bought version with everything from EMT shears (which I keep in the pocket of my door in case I ever need to cut a seatbelt) to instant ice packs to antihistamines.  I can remove a splinter, make a sling, treat a blister, and a host of other things on the spot.  That has come in handy any number of times.

Experience Is A Good Teacher

Some experiences we’ve had or that good friends have had also have influenced what we consider to be standard kit supplies.

A Freak Snow Storm

The kids and I were completely unable to get home once this winter in a sudden snowstorm.  An “inconsequential snow event” turned out to be very significant for us.  The steep roads between us and home were just impassable and closed within 90 minutes of the first flake falling.  Fortunately we had a friend who let us stay the night along the route home.  But what if we hadn’t?

Even then I realized that I had no access to needed prescription medication taken before bed and my cell phone was nearly dead.  I didn’t have a charger in the car either.

Thankfully, I had insisted that all the children take cold weather gear along each day even though they rarely actually wore it, preferring to dash the distance from the car to the buildings rather than bothering to bundle up.  But I’m certainly glad we had them that day, as well as a couple of blankets in the car.

Rapidly Rising Water

On another occasion, some extended family members found their neighborhood suddenly swamped with water after 10 inches of rain overwhelmed the local rivers and dams. They could not leave home (without a boat), could not get food, and lost power also.  Their daughter needed breathing treatments and they had no way to run the nebulizer.  A power inverter is always in our vehicles.

Another friend found himself stranded on the interstate overnight with his son in that same flood.  No food, no water, no way to get any.  At minimum, we have a zipper bag of granola bars, a jar of peanut butter, and our bottled water.

More To Come

In a future posting, I will give a more complete listing of what we keep in our vehicles, but hopefully this helped you to start thinking of needs you may face.

22 Comments on “Just-In-Case Car Kit, Part 1”

  1. Jim Says:

    With our kids, we rarely ever get into our car or van without each of them having a full bottle of water with them. If we’re leaving the immediate area, we will pack snacks and such as well. Saves us money as we don’t need to hit a drive-thru, plus the snacks will augment what we have in the vehicle emergency kit. Another thing we always try to have in the vehicles are things for the kids to do — paper and pens for drawing, activity books, that sort of thing. While we still hear, “I’m bored” from time to time, the frequency has gone down a bit.


    • Joe Says:

      Absolutely, Jim! Your’s in another example of how prepping not only is beneficial during a disaster, but also during the normal course of a day. The money you save on the drive-thru can be put to better use elsewhere. Plus the snacks that you pack is probably much healthier than you’d get through the drive-thru.


  2. 56 belair Says:

    My travel kit in my car has the following, 12volt air pump, 8ft of tow chain, 20ft of cotton 3/8″rope ,jumper cables,small us&metric tool set,pliers,adjustable wrench,12volt power inverter,butane lighter,moving blanket,5trashbags black white for signaling or for a moisture barrier,flashlight,water,canned soup,crackers& peanut butter,small gas can,snow chains if applicable,some type of communication device, these are all suggestions you can customize to the environment you are traveling in. Hope this is helpful,stay safe & and happy traveling….


  3. Hiker1 Says:

    After reading some of the ideas here, i am concerned that no one has mentioned what kind of tire jack or wheel wrench they have. as you know most of the jacks supplied with the car are used on the side of the road and on fairly level ground (usually blacktop) with minimum weight in the car. I wonder if it would be advantages to carry a hydraulic jack and a four way wheel wrench? the hydraulic jack will provide better stability than a scissor jack and the four way wrench will provide lots of torque on those stubborn wheel lugs? Ask yourself one question; could i use my jack and wheel wrench when conditions are not optimal?
    Not only should you have a good survival kit in your vehicle (and know how to use it) you need to have a solid way to repair not only tire issues (depending on your mechanical ability) as well as a good tire pump.


    • 56 belair Says:

      As a husband and father I make it my responsibility to keep good tires on all the vehicles. Because there have been times when I wasn’t around. That said, I know that all my vehicles are in good operating condition and by doing that I can have piece of mind while they are out and about. Vehicle maintenance is of the utmost importance. A rule of thumb I like to use is, can the vehicle take a 1000 mile trip with no mechanicals issues. If I can say that with confidence then I can let my family go fifty miles to see a movie. I have always used this method with great success. It might be something that can be useful to someone else.


      • 56 belair Says:

        Campbell haussfield makes a 12 volt Plug in lug wrench that is a really awesome tool to have in your arsenal of road emergency equip.. And since I have two shoulder Replacements its a neccesity.


  4. Olivia Says:

    Good article food for thought and preparation.



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